Casino workers rally and march to Bally’s HQ in Providence to demand full staffing and substantial raises“Bally’s employees are fighting for what they deserve: a fair contract so they can make a decent living, get back on their health benefits, and not feel exhausted after completing a work shift,” said Michael Kramer, Vice-President of UNITE HERE Local 26.
Published on May 25, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist
Over 200 Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino employees and members of the hospitality and food service workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 26, and their allies, gathered in front of Providence City Hall to demand that Bally’s restores pre-pandemic staffing and scheduling at the company’s flagship casino. The workers were joined by Bally’s employees from Atlantic City and Las Vegas as well as Encore Boston Harbor casino workers, UNITE HERE Local 26 leaders, and Providence City Councilmember Carmen Castillo.
Wearing red shirts and carrying signs with “Bally’s United” and “UNITE HERE,” Bally’s workers and their supporters rallied on the City Hall steps, holding up a “Bally’s United” banner and giving speeches before marching down Kennedy Plaza to gather across from Bally’s Corporation headquarters. With their union contract expiring on July 1, 2022, the workers demanded a full reopening of the casino and significant wage increases.
“The most important thing is that we are unions. We are brothers and sisters. We are united and we fight together every time,” said Councilmember Castillo, rallying the crowd. “Every time they want to screw the workers we are here to support each other. So don’t be scared, fight!”
“Bally’s employees are fighting for what they deserve: a fair contract so they can make a decent living, get back on their health benefits, and not feel exhausted after completing a work shift,” said Michael Kramer, Vice-President of UNITE HERE Local 26. “Bally’s Twin River Casino is one of the biggest employers in the state, and they are doing very well economically. Their business would only improve if they reopened fully and brought everyone back to work.”
In Rhode Island, Bally’s should be a key provider of good, well-paying jobs. Unlike some other industries, the casino business has remained profitable through the COVID lockdown. In 2021, gaming revenues at Twin River recovered to over 81% of pre-pandemic levels. Total revenues from VLTs, table games, and sports wagering at Twin River were approximately $535 million in 2019 and $438 million in 2021. But staffing levels at the casino do not reflect this reality. Before the pandemic, there were three times as many full-time workers as there are now. And among the 260 workers currently on the schedule, only 64 are employed full time. Because the casino is understaffed, workers who are currently on the schedule are exhausted after their shifts.
“There have been times when I can’t even take a bathroom break or have a sip of water,” said Kathryn Dacier, a bartender and a mother of three who has worked at the Twin Rivers Casino in Rhode Island for almost 16 years. “When I work on a weekend night, there are no food runners, so I have to do that work. The day after a shift, I’m not getting out of bed. Otherwise I’ll have no energy – I just physically can’t wake up and deal with kids the next day. Bartending is a physically demanding job, but before the pandemic, when we were not understaffed, I was still able to go to the kids’ baseball games the day after a shift.”
“Before the pandemic I worked at Bally’s full-time, between 35 and 40 hours a week,” said Valerie Costa, a bartender and cocktail server at Twin Rivers Casino. “Now I only have one shift, six hours a week. Today I am struggling to pay my mortgage and utility bills…”
Workers from Bally’s in Atlantic City:
Workers from Bally’s in Las Vegas:
The march from Providence City Hall to the Bally’s headquarters at 100 Westminster Street:
A short interview with Bally’s worker Stacey Garcia:
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A short interview with Bally’s worker John Gomes: